Monthly Archives: February 2017

Ways to Find Human Interaction in Our Remote World

This article confirms the negative impact of isolation. Working from home is isolating, and we need to discuss this for the sake of our health and survival.

There are numerous articles about the importance of connecting with people while you work remotely or as an entrepreneur. There are a few companies that are doing an excellent job at bridging the isolation gap. WeWork is an example of an organization that creates co-working spaces to make sure that we do have human interaction—after all, getting up in the morning and dressing up for work are priceless!

NeueHouse is another organization that provides a community to folks who work alone.

There are other technologies, such as Double 2, that give you the ability to stay connected while being remote. It lets you show up at work virtually on the East Coast while you live on the West Coast or anywhere else in the world. It’s a unique concept, and there are great examples to support this solution.

These organizations are doing the right thing, but this setting may not work for some employees who work for larger corporations, whose confidential projects require them to have an office space or for whom the cost of renting the facility may not be reimbursable. Also, there are other challenges, such as managing the kids’ drop-off and pick-up schedules, as well as other household responsibilities that require them to be at home.

To address some of these difficulties, I have another option that will provide the necessary human interaction. Go for a walk with other remote employees in your area, or find other parents to connect with while your kids are doing their sports activities. This way, you don’t have to worry about leaking confidential company information or being late for pick-up. I have found this to be an excellent way to connect, along with volunteering, when time permits.

What other ways have you found to connect with people? Please share.

How to Manage Organizational Changes as a Telecommuter

Change always comes with opportunities. Professionally, I’m experiencing a lot of changes now. I have the chance to do new work, find a new position, and create new connections. I want to take this opportunity to share with you what I am learning as part of this process.

Speak Up: During transitions, make sure you speak up and share your thoughts on your part of the project or the overall plan. It’s best to provide input when you can make an impact—which is at the beginning. As a remote employee, you will need to be more vocal than usual to make your case.

Ask Questions:
A transition is a time of flux, and for you to understand its impact on your job, you need to ask clarifying and direct questions. Managers are usually able to discuss some information. Even if the information is confidential, they can inform you of that.

Stay Connected: Continue your conversations with your manager during one-on-one meetings. Stay connected with your teammates and be informed. Attend all the meetings discussing the changes in your organization, since they will have an impact on you, even as a remote employee.

Update Your Résumé: If you are looking for new opportunities, update your résumé and add search agents to your company’s internal HR site. Alerts will send you access to new job openings right to your inbox. Continue talking with your mentor to work on your next steps.

Avoid Rumors: Being remote can work to your advantage, since you are not physically there to stop and listen to the multiple conversations going on in the office. Try not to get pulled into the rumor mill. If you have questions, ask them directly to your management chain, since they would have the most accurate information.

Change is the only constant, and we need to keep going! Please share any suggestions that have worked for you: info@telecommuterstalk.com.

Six Ways to Reward Yourself as a Telecommuter this Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Reward and recognition are necessary to keep most of us motivated. When you work in an office, you can see and feel more of this from your peers and your management. When you work from home, this may be reduced.

I’ve learned to create rewards that are meaningful for me when I finish an important task, project, or presentation. I do need to continue to work on this, since I finish one task and move on to the next without a break sometimes.

Here are a few suggestions that have worked for me:

  1. Lunch with a Friend:This one is always on the top of my list, because I get to connect with other adults face-to-face. By catching up with a friend, I can get updates on the community, like what to expect when school starts, which teachers are coming back, etc. I learn a lot about community happenings during these lunches.
  2. Movies:This is my favorite “alone time” activity. I enjoy going to the movies alone and immersing myself in something that makes me laugh or feel good. Going with others adds pressure to have a conversation, and sometimes you just want to keep to yourself.
  3. Window Shopping:I shop online due to convenience, but I also enjoy going to local stores. That way, I learn what the fashion trends are and what not to wear. If you work from home, dressing up is not a priority, so going out to shop helps me to keep up.
  4. Walk with a Friend:I like one-on-one conversations better than multiway interactions, so I plan to meet with a friend for a walk to talk. This may seem simple, but if you work 9-5 from home, getting out of the house for any reason is a huge accomplishment!
  5. Hiking or Rock Climbing: I go to the local community center and rock climb. It helps me stay fit and gives me great pleasure—which is a reward for me!
  6. Bath:A bath sounds so basic, but for a working mother, taking a quiet bath is huge! Taking a 20-minute bath without being called to fix something or hearing something breaking in the background is better than a trip to the Caribbean for me!

Most of the time, I plan these events in advance. Just having that anticipation encourages me to finish my task on time and keeps me excited.

Share your ideas about rewarding yourself by sending a note to info@telecommuterstalk.com.

Be a Mindful Telecommuter This Year

The definition of mindfulness: 1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something; for example, 2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

We need to be mindful in every aspect of our lives. Based on research done by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, mindfulness is good for our overall health. When working remotely, it is easy to get distracted by personal phone calls or the laundry, etc. To overcome such interruptions, here are some suggestions for being as mindful as you can be:

Focus on one thing at a time: When you are on a teleconference, just be on the call. Do not check e-mail or surf the web simultaneously. Staying focused is hard, but if you step away, you don’t have anything to distract you. Have a designated area or a chair where you can go while you are on the call. Close your eyes, if it helps you to stay focused.

Plan your day: Don’t jump right into e-mails or social media. Instead, take at least 20-30 minutes to plan your day and set your priorities. Pick 2-3 big items you need to address that day, and add them to your calendar. I have this time for planning set on my calendar every day, and it works well for me.

Use your calendar: If you need to work on a presentation or document, put it on your calendar so that your teammates and manager know that you are busy and will not respond to e-mails right away. Close your e-mail and chat applications while you work on the document. I usually create a better document when I spend dedicated time on a task.

Take breaks: I’m still working on this one myself! Either set up an appointment on your calendar or an alarm on your phone for a break, and take it when the time arrives. Take it for you, and not to start laundry or clean. Do what relaxes you—read a book in 15 minutes, enjoy an article, go for a short walk, or call a friend for 10 minutes.

Breathe: Do this especially if you are working on a timeline or dealing with a difficult co-worker. Put things in perspective and move on. I know this is easier said than done, but practice makes perfect. Breathing does reduce stress and helps you calm down. Here is a one-minute exercise that can help.

Exercise: This used to be last on my list, but now it is one of the first things I do. It gets me going, and this jump-start helps me to keep moving and working for the rest of the day. Direct sunlight and fresh air are invigorating, and you will carry that energy with you all day.

Shutdown: This includes your computers, cell phones, and any similar devices after your work hours. I have my work phone set to turn off at 6 pm. Unplugging helps me stay focused on after-work activities and obligations.

A great resource I use to stay mindful is https://www.mindful.org.
A great article about ways to be mindful from Happify

Do you have any recommendations for books or websites on mindfulness?